History & Spread
We started practicing Caucasian Yoga according to what was transmitted by the Circassian mystic Murat Yagan (1915-2013), who having been born in Abkhazia, settled in Canada in 1963. His teaching was initially communicated to us by a Sufi Sheikh of the Halveti-Yerrahi Order from Istanbul (Turkey). This Sheikh had interacted extensively with Murat Yagan until the moment of his death occurred at the end of 2013.
However, the modality of Caucasian Yoga adopted and spread by Murat Yagan, was not only based on the knowledge that he received from his instructors of the Ahmsta Kebzeh tradition.
Although it had never been openly acknowledged by him and as it will be proved ahead, Murat Yagan also based his teaching in the very manuscript of Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski entitled «A System of Caucasian Yoga» and published in year 1955 about eight years before Murat Yagan`s immigration into Canada during year 1963.
We respect the legacy of Murat Yagan. And we will be forever grateful to those who shared with us the initial knowledge about the existence of Caucasian Yoga and Ahmsta Kebzeh. But we will not fail to point out the striking omissions of Murat Yagan, nor his curious distortions regarding the Original Teaching of Caucasian Yoga.
Our doubts about the legitimacy of what was transmitted by Murat Yagan, arose after studying the research paper published at the Journal of Sufi Studies 3 (2014), by two Israelian researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem named Chen Bram and Meir Hatina. Full PDF text here
In their paper entitled “From Sufism to Universal Vision: Murat Yagan and the Teaching of Kebzehˮ, in pages 81-82 they clearly point out that: “Kebzeh, in Yagan’s terminology, is ʻCaucasus yoga,ʼ a term that seems to be borrowed from an earlier book by Count Stephan Colonna Walewski, who focused on various breathing practices which appear to be connected to early- and mid-twentieth-century spiritualismˮ
This shows that Murat Yagan not only borrowed the title of the text of Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski, but he also borrowed complete parts of "A System of Caucasian Yoga", without ever crediting the source consulted in any of its various texts. In short, Murat Yagan never explicitly acknowledged Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski within his bibliographical citations.
To compare "A System of Caucasian of Yoga" with Murat Yagan texts` please visit https://www.caucasianyoga.org/murat-yagan
We ignore the reason why Murat Yagan transcribed textual information from the Colonna-Walewski Manuscript, while he simultaneously avoided mentioning it as the source of his texts. But the reality is that in the many books written by Murat Yagan, there is not the slightest mention to the work entitled "A system of Caucasian Yoga" and much less any credit to its author Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski.
We also found out that before Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski, this same tradition had already been presented to the Western world. Firstly through Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish (1844-1936), who having spent his childhood in Iran, was initiated by a Zoroastrian esoteric sect. Once Dr. Hanish settled in the US he called his system Mazdaznan.
Mazdaznan was popularized in the early twentieth century in North America and Europe as a comprehensive system that touted vegetarianism and a fairly similar version of the Six Master Arcanes of the Colonna-Walewski Manuscript, although bypassing certain relevant aspects of human polarity, chromatic vibrational frequencies associated to each evolutionary plane and ignoring the relevance of the Maternal Respiratory Rhythm (7-1-7-1).
Like G.I. Gurdjieff, Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski considered that the dissemination of his written work should take place once he had passed away. «A System of Caucasian Yoga» is an hermetic text, apparently confusing and messy, but the keys are available for those who are willing to interpret and decrypt it. It is pretty clear that Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski did not seek to enlarge his ego, nor to have a court of fanatical followers who idolized him.
The work of Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski has been unanimously recognized as a unique and absolutely original esoteric manuscript. Its nature is eminently practical. Until now, it has been translated into French, Russian, Italian and Spanish.
We find extremely enlightening the words of the Teacher Robert Allen Pittmann in his website https://wisbod.com/training-the-sensorium-chapter-1/ where he writes:
«During my research I have discovered lesser known Physical or Mars oriented Yogas which are also compatible with this idea of “Gutarsta”. They are however simpler and more effective than many techniques found in Hatha-Yoga systems. They are more practical physically and psychologically for modern people than many of those techniques I was exposed to from Indian and Chinese tradition.
«I found these Yogas which I would call “Mars Yogas” came from Persia and probably originated in Egypt. They are exemplary of the primitive source Yogas for much of what was later spread in history across Asia. Evidence suggests these Yogas were carried by the Scythian culture as far back as 1180 b.c.e. from Persia toward the Caucasoid Mountain range.
Supporting this view are the burial mounds of the Scythians which have yielded archeological information (see Renate Rolle’s “The Scythians” and “From Scythia to Camelot” by Malcor). These texts, when coupled with the descriptions in texts given by Idries Shah, G.I. Gurdjieff, Count Walewski, Otoman Hanish, Murat Yagan and Charles Muses all support the idea of a source of both ancient yoga, dance and other movement at a kind of Monastic Retreat or Village Compound, known as the Sarmoun Monastery.
On the other hand, Murat Yagan even made a methodological change in the sequence of the Major Arcanes. In his teaching only the first five Major Arcanes were transmitted, fully omitting the last two Major Arcanes.
By his own account, Murat Yagan also introduced two new dimensions (Ecologic & Cosmic). And to each of them, he attributed (of his own conception) two new colors for its visualization (Purple and Green), which are completely alien to the Original Teaching written in the Colonna-Walewski Manuscript as well as in the Mazdaznan Tradition.
It is also relevant to notice, that Murat Yagan imposed a new criterion regarding the Master Breathing that instead of respecting the Walewski cycle of 7-1-7-1 (16 seconds in total), it became 7-2-7-2 (18 seconds total)
«I link the word “Sarmoun” to the horse culture called “Sarmatian” which eventually conquered the Scythians around 600-550 b.c.e. Herodotus called them the “Sauromatae”. They appear to be the predecessors of who became known as the Sarmatians. It was the Armenian mystic Gurdjieff who said some of his teaching was from “The Sarmoun Brotherhood.” According to Charles Muses (in a personal correspondence) it was the “same secret brotherhood” who taught Gurdjieff and later Stefan Walewski and Otoman Hanish, the latter two brought these specific Yogas into Western Europe and eventually into the U.S. Hanish started an organization called the Mazdaen Temple in the early 1900’s. Since his death it has become franchised by some enterprising individuals and there was a web site the last time I checked.
These distortions of Murat Yagan, are completely alien to what was originally taught by Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski, who advocated the practice from the visualization only of colors Red, Yellow, Blue and White.
All in all, it is difficult to understand the inclusion of colors Purple and Green, and even more to understand the modification of the Master Breathing proposed by Murat Yagan.
A miraculous synchrony of Fate put us in touch with whom we consider to be the most faithful and honest introducer of Caucasian Yoga in the West. We refer to Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski (1897-1955), who explicitly ordered his disciples that his manuscript be published only after his death, under the title "A system of Caucasian Yoga" - containing a summary of the secret doctrine and exercises that in turn he received in the Caucasus at the beginning of the 20th century before the expansion of Bolshevik Communism destroyed all mystic traditions rooted in the Caucasus.
The manuscript was written by Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski, when his command of the English language was still not optimal, which is why some paragraphs require more than one reading.
For us, it was not easy to revert the path of so many years of Ahmsta Kebzeh practice as prescribed by Murat Yagan. Our doubts were vanished, when we realized that Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski had been the most faithful and honest introducer of this teaching.
We finally realized that Murat Yagan had partially transcribed "A system of Caucasian Yoga" in his texts, but without ever mentioning it nor crediting the original source. From then on, we decided to modify our practice to base it entirely on the precise instructions of Count Stefan Colonna-Walewski.
«Walewski’s personal text of these Yogas was called “Caucasoid Yoga”. This text was passed to Charles Muses who issued it with his Falcon Wing Press then passed it on to someone else. Borderland Science still sells photocopies and I believe a new edition has appeared. Gurdjieff brought approximately fifty Sacred Dances into Europe with him and they duplicate some of the same postures and come from the same regions. The works of these men appear to me to be representative of the teachings of the Sarmoun Brotherhood. I believe they are also representative of the Sarmatian Physical Culture path which was preserved among the tribes in the Caucasoid mountains.
«These yoga exercises, because of their ancient sources, simplicity of structure (due to being carried in a Nomadic Horse Culture) and al-truistic philosophy form the core of what could safely be called “The Scythian Way” or more accurately “The Sarmatian Way”. The word Sarmatia or Sarman all pertain to Sauron the meaning of which is “reptilian” or “scaly” and refers both to the scale armor they wore and their own ancient myth that they came from the marriage of Hercules with a Serpent woman.
To clarify the lineage and affiliation of Caucasian Yoga, the teaching transmitted by the French Teacher Ashtar Khan has also been of fundamental importance, his book "Le Yoga Caucasiene" (ISBN 979-10-91413-21-3) is an outstanding contribution.
In Italy a similar role was assumed by Marco Fomia who translated the Colonna-Walewski manuscript under the title «Il manoscritto dello yoga caucasico» (ISBN 9788887944211) and in Spain as well by Manuel Corral Baciero who translated it under the title «Un Sistema de Yoga Caucasiano» (ISBN 9781447590934).